A snippet of the article I wrote on UFC light heavyweight Rashad Evans. Available in the Sept. ’11 issue of Ultimate MMA Magazine
Rashad Evans Sets the Record Straight On Who He Really Is … and What He Thinks About Jon Jones
“Every time I sit back and reflect, it’s always like a moment. I can’t believe I’m here right now.”Here for Rashad Evans happens to be the Red Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the Zuffa fighter summit. After a day of workshops on all things revolving around the business of fighting, Evans ends his day meeting with the press.
In a room of other notable fighters like Melvin Guillard, Anthony Johnson and Jorge Santiago, Evans is the most sought after man of the evening. He knocks out his interviews like the professional he is, never tiring of the questions—many he’s undoubtedly answered hundreds of times.
Here also happens to be his place in the current mixed martial arts landscape.
A perennial contender for the light-heavyweight crown, the Niagara Falls, New York native went from an undersized heavyweight on season two of “The Ultimate Fighter” to a top-five contender. Beating some of the world’s best took Evans around the country, fighting in some of the biggest venues. Winning—and winning often—also has perks outside of caged combat.
“A couple weeks ago, I was training at [pro football’s] Ray Lewis’ house,” he continues against the nighttime backdrop in Sin City. “I used to watch him play football, and now I’m at his house. It’s so crazy how far I’ve come. When I start thinking like that, I’m so grateful.”
Some may also say it’s a bit crazy how fans react to him.
If you never met Rashad Evans and went solely on reactions to him from fans on the Internet, you’d think he was the worst person in the world. “Cocky” is an adjective frequently hurled in his direction.
But, heels in sports entertainment are seldom hated when the lights go down. With MMA, however, the perceptions linger long after the crew tears down the Octagon and everyone goes home. Evans is well aware of this.
“I’m definitely misunderstood,” he laments. “As long as I’ve been fighting, I feel like the fans don’t really know who I am. It’s alright to an extent, but I’m so far from the idea of who they think I am, it bothers me.”
ON GOING UNDEFEATED
“Everybody always told me a loss would happen. It was a reality I didn’t want to accept that I came to accept. I accepted it. When it happened, I was wondering, ‘is this what it feels like?’”
ON TALKING TO THE MEDIA
“This is how people get to know me. The only way they can get to know me is reading the interview. From that, they put together an idea of who I am. Sometimes they can make you look good, sometimes they can make you look bad as hell.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The full story is in the September issue.